One Tree Hill is one of many landmarks where the NZ Dojo trainees hold their outdoor workouts. Located in central Auckland, this volcanic peak span 182 metres (597 feet) and 20 square kilometres (7.7 square metres). For this workout, the trainees had to run together in a line around the entire area ten times while holding a large rope.
Puru is the youngest in the class and began training at the Dojo when he was 15 years old. However, now at 19 years of age and being part of the three-month professional wrestling intake, some tough love from the Rogue General was necessary.
Other Side of the World
Each person has made sacrifices to be part of this international programme. Such is the case for Jake Taylor. Taylor the Senior Lion shared his first memories of watching pro wrestling during a challenging time in his childhood. Wrestling gave Taylor wonderful memories.
These memories are what Taylor gravitated to when he decided to pursue his wrestling aspirations. The decision was made clearer through the pathway that was provided in NZ.
“Do you want to go to sleep?” Fale, annoyed, asked the trainees.
“The next time I come in here, and I see you guys looking like you’re going to fall asleep; I’m going to wake you guys up, and you know how I’m going to do it,” Fale told the class.
“This is where it starts,” he added. “When you warm up, you wake up!”
Coach Mark Tui explained the importance of pushing the trainees to strive for excellence and longevity. If they do not treat this journey seriously, their lack of drive can disrupt the class. The objective is to transform their mindset and acclimatise them to the Japanese culture so that they are equipped to handle the high-level demand of NJPW.
The trainees received their NJPW tracksuits with a steady reminder that they are to wear their uniforms with dignity and pride. Tui added that the trainees should always look presentable.
I’m Going to Throw You
The trainees were led through some basic exercises which are crucial to building a solid foundation for their skills. To test their ability, Fale went through the class to see if they could block his ability to throw them to the ground.
Nice to Meet You
Tui and Andrew Villalobos collected Sebastian Matters from Auckland International Airport. Matters arrived from Queensland, Australia, this was not his first-time at the Dojo. After completing his initial intake in September 2018, Matters was selected to train at the NJPW Dojo in Tokyo but returned home to Australia after a week. Matters has returned to the Dojo to seek his redemption.
Coaches Fale and Tony Kozina caught up with Oskar Münchow (calling from his home in Germany) on a video call. Münchow trained a full year at the Dojo in 2019 before he (and Jake Taylor) was selected to train further at the NJPW Dojo.
The trainees had a photoshoot for the press and New Japan Pro-Wrestling that was taken outside the NZ Dojo facility. The experience was a glimpse into the responsibilities that comes with being a professional wrestler for a major promotion such as NJPW.
I’ve Chosen Wrestling
To practise team bonding, the trainees were playing basketball and ran laps at the local gymnasium. The Senior Lions led the trainees in their workout as the coaches observed from their seats.
Taylor reflected on his time at the NJPW Dojo where he referred to it as his greatest success to date, but it was also the most miserable time of his life. Taylor added that if he must train all over again to wrestle in New Japan, he will do it again. He knows now that he is mentally equipped to withstand the high-level demands of New Japan Pro-Wrestling.